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Small Business Saturday spending exceeded expectations

U.S. consumers spent $5.5 billion “Shopping Small”

Published: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 1:43 p.m. CDT

Small businesses across the country got their holiday season off to a strong start as millions of U.S. consumers “shopped small” on Small Business Saturday and made a big impact on local communities.

According to the second installment of the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday jumped to 67 percent from 34 percent just two weeks ago. Of those aware, nearly half (47 percent) shopped on Small Business Saturday.

The increased awareness translated into higher spending. Those U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday spent a total of $5.5 billion with independent merchants. Pre-holiday surveys estimated that U.S. consumers would spend $5.3 billion.

Separately, American Express said cardmember transactions at small business merchants rose approximately 21 percent compared to last year’s Small Business Saturday.

“In an uncertain economy, America’s small businesses have remained a beacon — creating good jobs and supporting the families they employ and the communities around them,” said NFIB CEO Dan Danner. “We are very pleased that so many Americans sought to give back by shopping small this Small Business Saturday. We hope that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants and other independent businesses continues throughout the holiday season and all year round. Continued support of this vital sector is one important way to ensure our economy fully recovers and a healthy private sector is restored.”

“Small Business Saturday, in its third year, has become an integral part of the holiday shopping season and consumers were out in large numbers to support their favorite small businesses,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “Small Business Saturday celebrated the shops across the country that make our neighborhoods vibrant and bolster the U.S. economy.”

Support from every corner of the country

Elected officials in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., championed Small Business Saturday — including President Barack Obama and many senior government officials. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a Small Business Saturday Resolution, which supports efforts to encourage consumers to shop locally and increase awareness of the value of locally-owned small businesses. The resolution received bi-partisan support from more than 40 co-sponsors. More than 350 small business organizations supported the nationwide initiative with more than 50 Chambers of Commerce and 60 groups organizing events and activities in support of the day. More than 155 corporations banded together to promote shopping at small merchants for Small Business Saturday. More than 3.2 million Facebook users “liked” the Small Business Saturday Facebook page. More than 213,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #smallbizsat and #shopsmall. This includes consumers spreading the word about the national initiative and business owners promoting offers they created specifically for the day.

Small business owners make the day their own

The inaugural Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released earlier this month by the NFIB and American Express, indicated that 46 percent of independent merchants familiar with the day planned to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday strategy. Two-hundred and twenty thousand small merchants placed permanent point-of-purchase decals on their storefronts, adding to the 500,000 who placed them in 2011. Online tools and materials were leveraged more than 100,000 times by small business owners to help get the word out about Small Business Saturday.

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